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Water, sewer system master plans OKd
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After three years of work, the city of Ceres now has master plans to build the future of its sewer and water systems.

The process of designing and studying the environmental impacts of the plans took two consultants and three years. ECO:Logic Consulting Engineers prepared the sewer master plan for $479,316 and West Yost & Associates prepared the $358,3000 water master plan. Both plans were paid for by bond proceeds.

The master plans correct deficiencies in the city's sewer and water systems which have been stressed, said City Engineer Toby Wells. They also plan for future growth of Ceres. The plans will be implemented in three phases that include beyond 2022 and the full build-out of the 1997 General Plan.

Over $200 million in capital projects will be needed to ensure that the city of Ceres can continue to provide enough good, clean water for existing and future customers. Needed improvements include additional wells and pipelines, expensive wellhead treatment to remove contaminants, constructing a 2-million-gallon water tank at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park and two new reservoirs on the west side where new development is to take place.

To help pay for those improvements, the city council approved a series of water and sewer rate increases. Currently Ceres households pay $43.99 per month for sewer service. The rate will jump to $44.99 on July 1, $49.33 in July 2014, $52.96 in July 2015, $56.30 in July 2016 and $59.03 per month in July 2017.

Water rates in Ceres also will increase in July. The city is raising the volumetric charge from 72 cents per 1,000 gallons to $1 -- and $2 per thousand gallons by 2017-18.

Currently the average Ceres household pays $31.28 per month for water service. That figure is based on a current $20.42 per month service charge and $10.86 per month in volumetric charges based on use of the average use of 15,820 gallons per month. Under the rate adjustment, the average Ceres household will pay $35.57 per month starting in July, $39.93 in July 2014, $44.18 in July of 2015, $47.24 in July of 2016 and $50.43 in July of 2017-18.

The environmental review of the master plans suggest that there are significant and unavoidable impacts to the environment that include: temporary noise from construction, impacts to Turlock and Modesto sewer plants, and the potential for loss of farmland due to expanded sewer and water systems.

The plan includes a list of technical improvements that include new and replacement wells, new water and sewer lines, new water storage tanks and sewer lift stations. It also calls for improvements to the Ceres sewer plant and upsizing the system to boost capacity of treated effluent to the Turlock sewer plant from 2 million gallons per day to 6 million gallons per day. Ceres also plans to ultimately increase capacity of the sewage piped to the Jennings Road Modesto treatment plant.

Groundwater only plan would not meet the city's needs. Expansion of the Ceres wastewater treatment plant would be two times the cost of the alternative.